Bullying: What To Do When Your Child Is Being Bullied
What To Do When Your Child Is Being Bullied
Teasing, taunting and other forms of bullying can cause serious emotional harm to children that lasts much longer than the bloody nose or scraped knees. Ignoring or excusing the behavior, saying things like "kids will be kids," only perpetuates the situation.
Children who are bullied often experience low self-esteem and depression, whereas those doing the bullying may go on to engage in more destructive, antisocial behaviors as teens and adults. Bullies, who often have been bullied themselves, may pick on others to feel powerful, popular, important, or in control. Often, they antagonize the same children repeatedly.
Bullying takes place in every school: On average, one student in 10 is bullied at least once a week, and one in three has experienced bullying as either a bully or a target during the average school term. The children most likely to experience bullying are in fifth, sixth and seventh grades. Boys are more likely to be involved than girls.
In a recent study, 86% of more than 1,200 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls polled said they've seen someone else being bullied, 48% said they've been bullied, and 42% admitted to bullying other kids at least once in a while.
There are 6 types of bullying:
1. Physical bullying (hitting, kicking, taking things or returning things damaged)
The fear of being harassed in school gets in the way of learning and makes going to school a miserable experience. Being bullied can make children feel lonely, unhappy and unsafe. Children who are being bullied may develop stomachaches, nightmares, nervousness and anxiety.
Signs that a child is being bullied:
· inventing mysterious illnesses to avoid school (for example, stomachaches, headaches, etc.)
· missing belongings or money
· sleeping problems
· poor concentration
· unexpected changes in routine
· problems with schoolwork
What parents can do:
If your child complains about being bullied at school, or if you suspect that might be happening, here are some suggestions:
Ask your child thoughtful questions, such as:
What's it like walking to the bus stop or home from school?
What's it like on the bus ride to and from school?
What happens on the playground during recess or before or after school?
What happens in the hallways at school or during lunchtime?
Have any bullies in the neighborhood or at school threatened anyone you know?
Do some kids you know get emails, instant messages, or text messages that are upsetting, threatening, or insulting?
Make it clear that you accept your child's reports of what is happening and that you take them seriously. She needs to know she has someone on her side who is willing to help her.
Tell your child to hold the anger. It's natural to want to get really upset with a bully, but that's exactly the response the bully is aiming for. Not only will getting angry or violent not solve the problem, it will only make it worse. Bullies want to know they have control over your child's emotions. Each time they get a reaction from your child, it adds fuel to the bully's fire — getting angry just makes the bully feel more powerful.
Reassure her that this situation can be resolved.
At the same time, let her know that you do not think this is her fault. Her confidence has already taken a big hit, and she already feels like a victim.
Remind your child to never get physical or bully back. Emphasize that your child should never use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing) to deal with a bully. Not only does that show anger, but your child can never be sure what the bully will do in response. Tell your child that it's best to hang out with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
While it is natural to want to protect your child by solving the problem for him, it will serve your child better if you teach him how to solve the problem himself. By learning the skills to stand up for himself, he can use them in other situations.
Ask your child how she has been dealing with the bullying. Talk about what else can be done and discuss what actions you can both take to solve the problem. Reassure her you will consult her before taking any action.
Encourage your child to act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Tell your child to look the bully in the eye and say something like, "I want you to stop right now." Counsel your child to then walk away and ignore any further taunts. Encourage your child to "walk tall" and hold his or her head up high (using this type of body language sends a message that your child isn't vulnerable).
Teach your child how to respond to a bully in a bold, assertive way.
Practice with him at home by role-playing. Participation in other activities builds confidence and develops social skills, making it easier to find ways of saying, "Leave me alone."
Suggest that your child stick with two or more other children when at the playground, the bus stop or wherever she comes face-to-face with the bully.
Teach your child to use humor as a distraction. In a situations where your child has to deal with a bully and can't walk away with poise, tell him or her to use humor or offer a compliment to throw the bully off guard. However, tell your child not to use humor to make fun of the bully.
Make sure your child knows it is okay to ask for help from a teacher or other adult. Practice what he'll say so he doesn't sound like he's whining or tattling.
Emphasize that it's very important to tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school can all help to stop it. Studies show that schools where principals crack down on this type of behavior have less bullying.
Determine if your child has healthy friendships with other children. If not, perhaps she can benefit by developing better social skills.
Encourage her to invite friends over to your home and participate in school activities.
It may help your child to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give the support your child needs. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when your child is being bullied.
If necessary, meet with school representatives to discuss the problem.
Encourage regular play or social visits with other children at your home. Being in a group with other kids may help to build your child's self-esteem and give your child a larger group of positive peers to spend time with and turn to.
Remember, bullying is not a normal part of growing up. Help your child develop the necessary tools to stick up for himself and others.
Advise your child to use the buddy system. Enlisting the help of friends or a group may help both your child and others stand up to bullies. The bully wants to be recognized and feel powerful, after all, so a lot of bullying takes part in the presence of peers. If the bully is picking on another child, tell your child to point out to the bully that his or her behavior is unacceptable and is no way to treat another person.